FLORIDA VOTERS UNITE AROUND EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION DESPITE A HIGHLY DIVISIVE ELECTION.
Increased state and federal investment in high-quality early childhood education has emerged as a bipartisan priority for Florida voters. A new poll conducted by the First Five Years Fund shows that strong majorities of Republicans, Independents and Democrats want to invest in a range of state initiatives, including: better standards and training for early childhood teachers; home and community education for parents who want to improve health and education outcomes for their children; and $85 million in funding to make sure children get quality child care and early learning. Additionally, nearly three-quarters support a federal plan to help states and local communities provide high-quality early childhood education for children from birth to age five.
Quality early childhood education is a top priority issue along with improving education and controlling the cost of health care. 84% say making sure our children get a strong start in life through quality early childhood education is extremely or very important to them personally.
Florida voters sense a problem that only early childhood education can solve. 75% of voters say we should be doing more to ensure children begin kindergarten with the skills and knowledge they need. Only 19% say we are doing enough and virtually no one says we should be doing less (4%). 61% of Republicans, 76% of Independents and 88% of Democrats call for doing more.
Voters recognize that learning begins at birth. 70% of Florida voters say birth through age five are the most critical years for developing a child’s capacity to learn.
Voters throughout the state say there is a lack of affordable and quality early education programs. 60% of Florida voters say that half or fewer of the early childhood programs in their area are both affordable and high-quality.
There is overwhelming support—with little opposition—for a federal plan that helps states and local communities provide better access to quality early childhood education. Nearly three-quarters of voters in the state support this plan: 72% favor and only 25% oppose. 54% of Republicans, 73% of Independents and 88% of Democrats voice support. Majorities of key swing voter groups also favor investing more in early childhood education.
Most Florida voters assume that these safeguards are in place for child care programs in the state when, in fact, there are not.
Florida voters express strong support for a range of state improvements in access and quality of early education. 87% of voters say the state should invest in standards, training and classroom resources so that all preschool and elementary school teachers are able to teach each child in a way that ensures each has a strong start in reading and school. 82% of Republicans, 85% of Independents and 93% of Democrats support this statement.
Vast majorities express support for programs that supports parents and parenting. 84% of voters say the state should provide home- and community-based education and support to parents who ask for help to improve their child’s health and ensure children are ready to learn when they start school. Majorities in all parties agree. 79% of Republicans, 82% of Independents and 92% of Democrats say we should be doing this.
An overwhelming majority of Florida voters say it is important to have a statewide rating system for early education programs to help parents make decisions and improve quality. 80% of voters support a rating system in the state. This registers overwhelming support among the electorate with relatively little opposition, as only 18% oppose it.
Methodology: Public Opinion Strategies (R) and Hart Research (D) conducted a telephone survey of N=600 voters in Florida on both landline and cell phones. The survey was conducted July 19-23, 2016 and has an overall margin of error of +/- 4.0%. The sample was distributed proportionally throughout the state and is demographically representative of the electorate.
Quality early childhood education is essential for children and families.
Find the complete findings from our 2016 national poll here.
See this year’s polling results from Ohio here.
Find our full findings from North Carolina here.
Find the results for our Colorado polling here.